Dhaka's Suhrawardy Udyan has recently come to the limelight as initiatives have been taken to cut down trees for implementing a mega project there.
The name of the Suhrawardy Udyan has been included in the list of some iconic structures like Kamalapur Railway Station and TSC that are awaiting to be revamped.
The Daily Star has recently talked to eminent persons to find answers to some questions like why restaurants would be constructed in Suhrawardy Udyan, would it be possible to construct a walkway, and what impact we may face if the trees are cut down.
The interviewees are academician Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury, Dhaka University Physics Professor Md Kamrul Hassan and architect Mobassher Hossain.
"The numbers of trees are insufficient in the city. We cannot support cutting down trees at Suhrawardy Udyan. This will encourage perpetrators to fell trees everywhere in this city in the name of development," said Prof Serajul Islam Choudhury.
"All development work at Suhrawardy Udyan must be undertaken keeping all trees where they are. Such a move of cutting trees must be stopped immediately. Trees must be replanted where trees have already been felled. The development projects must be revised," he viewed.
"It is shocking that trees are being cut down in the name of development. In developed megacities, everyone can find a park within a 30-minute walking distance," said Prof Kamrul Hasan.
"Theoretically, we need more greenery than developed countries because population density in our country is higher. But we can see the opposite. Here, greeneries are being destroyed. We cannot understand why restaurants would have to be constructed in Suhrawardy Udyan," he said.
"If this isn't stopped now, it would encourage further destruction of greeneries. For example, trees would be cut down for constructing car parks, shopping malls, and other concrete structures," he added.
"Suhrawardy Udyan is located adjacent to Dhaka University campus where trees are also being felled for construction. But trees are necessary for around 35,000 students of the university," he said.
If the university were open, students would surely stage protest against the cutting of trees. It is important for all to know who would get allotment of the restaurants, for which the trees would be cut, the professor said.
"As the park is located adjacent to the university, the authorities should protest the move of cutting trees," he added.
Architect Mobassher Hossain said, "New projects have been undertaken where more concrete structures would be constructed destroying trees. The park is like an oxygen plant which is providing us a huge amount of oxygen."
Walkways can be constructed by protecting trees. It will protect walkers from the scorching rays of sun, he added.
Already many trees have been cut for multiple purposes. The shortage of trees should be compensated by planting more trees. But things are going in reverse. More trees are being felled here, he said.
The architect also chalked out a solution through which trees can be protected, even if restaurants are constructed. Sitting arrangements can be made around the trees.
"Restaurants can be set up using straw that is environment-friendly. People would welcome it," he said.
"Cutting trees is one kind of offense. I think more trees are being cut than the actual required number. Proof can be found when we see the project initiators hiding the spot where trees are being cut," Mobassher added.
These trees needed around 50 years to reach today's stage. But they are felled overnight. The authorities concerned should have arranged a public hearing over this issue, he was of the view.
Whenever such projects are initiated, the government forms a committee, headed by a bureaucrat to oversee the works. He/she is efficient in running the administration, but usually not an expert in engineering and architecture. This culture should end, he said.
Cutting trees would have a long-term adverse impact on the city. When concrete structures are built by cutting down trees, surface water has no place to go. So, the underground water level in Dhaka is being depleted. It is alarming for city dwellers.
The architect demanded punishment of those who are the masterminds of such projects.